What’s Forgiveness Got to Do With Money? Everything.

written by Bari Tessler March 8, 2016
What’s Forgiveness Got to Do With Money? Everything.

It popped up from the very start, in the very first money workshop I led. The men and women circled around me swore they wanted to create new, healthier, and happier relationships with money. They were magnetized to this bright, shining future: filled with hope and clarity and empowerment.

But something was holding them back.

It was as if heavy chains were pulling them backwards, into their past, anchoring them to outdated money beliefs, to shameful secrets, to unresolved relationship dynamics, and even to practical To Do’s they hadn’t checked off their list.

As genuinely as they desired their new future, they simply could not move forward until we paused, looked into their past, and addressed what was tying them to it.

The matter at hand is forgiveness … completions … and letting go.

Sometimes, they already know what was holding them back, from the moment they walked in my door:

“I haven’t paid my taxes in three years, and the shame is killing me.”

“My inheritance caused a family rift, and I can’t see my brother without fighting about money.”

Other issues were more subtle, and didn’t fully surface until we’d done some digging in their past:

“That time I stole money from my Mom’s purse when I was seven still haunts me.”

“Wow, I never realized how much my church’s teaching that “money isn’t spiritual” has held me back in my career!”

Sheepishly, one by one, people admitted to these issues from their past. They usually thought they were the only one with a Big Dark Secret or unfinished business around money, and they inevitably sighed with relief when they found out: we all have our “money stuff” from the past that needs to be completed, released, forgiven, and grieved.

As you dredge up your Money Story, you will likely encounter pieces that you are ready to release. Shame that feels raw, or blame that’s draining your energy. Loose ends you desperately want to tie off. Money beliefs you’ve outgrown.

On one level, this is about completions: make that phone call, send that letter, and so on.

But what if you are “done” with something more subtle and internal? How can you let go, then? How can you release that old stuff that’s still hanging out with you, so you can get current with your Money Story and move forward?

This is the tender realm of forgiveness, grieving, and letting go. Here, we come full circle, back to Money Shame … and release it. Gently, baby step by baby step, with as much mindfulness and courage as we can muster, we transform our shame. We grieve, forgive, complete, and let go.


We are hard-wired for the wholeness on the other side of this transformation. We are inextricably drawn towards it. When we summon the courage and compassion to forgive within your money relationship, you will know this deeply empowering truth: Your past does not have to equal your future.

“Practicing forgiveness means letting go of self-righteous anger, blame, and resentment. That’s hard. The combination of self-righteous anger, blame, and resentment is one of my favorites. Umm. Umm. Umm. Drink it up! Unfortunately, I think it’s toxic and eats you alive from the inside. It might go down like a milkshake, but it burns up your insides like battery acid.” ~ Brené Brown

There are always two sides to forgiveness: the letting go and the moving forward. Looking back to the past and stepping forward. Releasing and creating.

It seems paradoxical, but I’ve seen it over and over again: when we look back at our pain from the past, honor it, and release it, we can also move forward in new, more liberated ways.

We let go of old beliefs about money — and choose what new beliefs we bring forward with us, into the future. We not only release the old pain — we also uncover surprisingly wonderful gifts.

A word to the wise: forgiveness is tough work. It is a journey. Non-linear, fluid, deeply personal, often mysterious, and undertaken by the brave few. But the rewards, my friend, are huge.

I’m not just talking about being able to mail that letter or file that tax return. I’m talking about deep, soul-level healing. Liberated energy reserves. Vastly expanded compassion for yourself and others.

Forgive. Complete. Release. Let it Go.

Forgive yourself. Forgive your parents. Forgive that rude collections agent. Forgive the IRS. Forgive society. Forgive your ancestors for what they did and what they didn’t do.

Let go of the anger and hurt and regret and stuck-ness. Look at it all, bless it, thank it, and let it go.

Forgive yourself … for being messy. For not knowing better. For knowing better, but doing it anyway.

Grieve. Grieve that money that’s gone. Grieve that chapter of your life that ended too soon. Grieve that friendship you lost. Grieve those paths you never took.

Forgive yourself … for not making more money. For making more money than you feel comfortable with. For racking up debt. For being a stay-at-home Mom instead of an entrepreneur. For being an entrepreneur instead of a stay-at-home Mom. For not living up to your parents’ expectations.

Complete your unfinished business. Tie up those loose ends draining your energy.

Forgive yourself … for the big things and the little things. For the obvious, subtle, and secret things.

Release your shame. Release the pain. Release the guilt. Let it all go.

No act of forgiveness is too small if it liberates energy for you.

Here’s to forgiveness, dear reader. Big and small. For yourself and for others. Around money and more. And here’s to the bright, loving new world waiting for you on the other side.



P.S. aom-book-coverYou just read a raw, uncut excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, The Art of Money: A Life-Changing Guide to Financial Happiness. It’s now officially available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound — how cool is that?? Big celebrations about this are in the works, so stay tuned …

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